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 Pastoral Associates: Applying for Certification

The following procedures facilitate the certification process for commissioning as a Pastoral Associate. Consult the Office of Parish Life (OPL) of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for clarification by phone or email at: (213) 637-7533 or 

A.   Applicants for certification must possess a Master’s degree in Divinity, Theology, Pastoral Theology or Religious Studies and have a minimum of three years in full time pastoral ministry. They may be employed as a Pastoral Associate in a parish or may be responding to an advertised position. All applicants participate in an initial discernment and interview process.     

B.   Application is made to the Office of Parish Life.

C.   Applicants receive:

  1. Application form
  2. Pastoral Associate Certification process checklist

D.  Applicants submit the following:

  1. Completed and signed application form
  2. Verification of good physical health
  3. A Reflection Paper addressing the Candidates’ understanding of their call and ministry
  4. One copy of current resume
  5. Copies of transcript/s of the required Master’s Degree
  6. Description of continuing education experiences in the last five years
  7. Copies of certification, recognition or approval in various ministries as
  8. Current job description/responsibilities
  9. Name, address and phone number of
    • a person who can provide  a reference for employment within last ten years
    • a person who can attest to pastoral, spiritual and personal maturity
    • current pastor
    • former pastor
  10. Copies of sacramental records.

E. Applicants must complete the following:

  1. Psychological screening and assessment 
  2. Fingerprinting and criminal background check.
  3. VIRTUS Awareness Training
  4. Course in Preaching

F.   Applicants will be asked to read and sign Archdiocesan Policy Statements

G.   Requests will be reviewed by a selection committee of the Office of Parish Life.

H.  The Office of Parish Life will be in contact with the pastor when appropriate during the certification process.

I.  Notification in writing will be sent to applicants (and the pastor when applicable) that certification is granted, or granted conditionally.

J. If certification cannot be granted, the title of "Pastoral Associate" may not be used.
Titles such as “pastoral assistant,” “pastoral Minister,” or coordinator of ________________” may be appropriate. 

The Archdiocese recognizes that while some may not qualify for the title of Pastoral Associate, they may have experience and training that qualifies them for select ministerial roles in parishes.

K.  Those who qualify to be certified and are awaiting certification may be
recognized as Pastoral Associates.

L.  Certification is valid for five years. It can be renewed through a re-certification process.
The process includes:

  1. Performance review done by the pastor or other appropriate supervisor
  2. At least 36 hours of continuing education annually, during the previous five years
  3. Annual retreat

M.  Applications for certification are accepted any time throughout the year.

N.  The OPL Advisory Board will:

  1. Oversee Ministry Standards
  2. Review and evaluate policy when appropriate
  3. Make changes in policy procedures when deemed necessary

O. The Office of Parish Life will follow-up with those working toward certification.

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